Grants 201: The Power of Partnerships Session 4 of the Grants 201 Series Working together with other nonprofits to achieve greater impact (e.g. shared services, mergers, joint programming, etc.) Partnerships and collaboration are strategic alliances between nonprofits that are intended to achieve greater impact than any organization could...

  Grants 201: Needs Assessment & Strategic Plans Session 3 of the Grants 201 Series Needs assessments conducted broadly in the community and specifically by an organization are valuable tools for all individuals who write grants. They help the writer use facts to describe the challenges experienced by...

Recently, I conducted a pre-submission peer review on several federal grant proposals from organizations located in rural Kansas. The first question each organization had to respond to was, “Describe your geographical/service area.” Each organization named the counties served in their respective service areas and then went on to describe just how ‘rural’ their area is. While each applicant organization had some aspects of serving rural areas of Kansas in common, they each approached the description differently. Some of the descriptions included the total square mileage contained within their service boundaries; others referenced the state’s definitions that place a county on a continuum of ‘frontier’ to ‘urban’; others pointed out the distance in hours to the nearest major city. Ultimately, each applicant described their geographical service area with the purpose of convincing federal reviewers that Organization XYZ was the only provider of important services for its region.

You want me to write about what? How can I write about progress when the right data wasn’t collected to measure progress? Grant professionals are frequently faced with the reality of gaps in data in pre-award, and post-award. We are asked to respond to sections which require a discussion of national, regional, and local data to justify need; as well as sections requesting data-supported rationale for the proposed intervention, and finally a proposed series of measurable objectives indicated by an improvement over baseline. Sometimes there is something to work with. Oftentimes we are asked to work magic!

As grant professionals, we all know that using strong, relevant data from reliable sources to support our case for funding is essential to a quality, competitive application. Although this is true across all types of applications, it is especially relevant when applying for federal grants. While stories bring our programs to life for a reviewer, used artfully data provides the foundation that makes it possible to build a captivating (and winning) case for support. I’m going to provide you with some resources you can use to make finding - and citing - that crucial piece of data easier next time you need it.

May is a month of growth. Trees leaf out more fully and flowers bloom. The temperature rises without being sweltering. We slip the cold bonds of winter and the chaotic weather of early spring, and we breathe deeply of air redolent with the fragrance of blossoms and freshly mown grass. I do, at least until my allergies cause my sinuses to shut tighter than a 100-words-or-less organizational description. As spring’s warmth sets in, we may clean out some of the clutter we accumulated during the long winter. Yes, May is a good month for decluttering our living spaces, and it’s a good month to declutter our writing. By paring down our writing to its essentials, we can be much more effective as grant writers. We can actually grow by shrinking. And not only can we reduce the physical space our writing occupies, but we can also reduce the effort needed to read it and understand it.

Grant writers often have to fit lots of content into character, word, or page limits. We always have to worry about keeping a reader’s attention. One way we condense content is by using a series, a list of three or more items separated by commas. One way to confuse readers and lose their attention is to write a series that doesn’t make sense. This blog post will help you avoid that so you can write as clearly and concisely as possible.

Parallelism: Lining up your lists to avoid throwing your reader a curveball. We’re grant writers. We often have to fit lots of content into character, word, or page limits. We always have to worry about keeping a reader’s attention. One way we condense content is by using a series, a list of three or more items separated by commas. One way to confuse readers and lose their attention is to write series that don’t make sense. This blog post will help you avoid that so you can write as clearly and concisely as possible.

Like many of you, school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have placed me in the - let’s be honest - not entirely welcome position of balancing a full-time career with my new role of homeschool teacher. I naively and, looking back on it, pompously believed that this would be a piece of cake. I have teenagers, not small children who demand constant attention. They are good students. How hard can it be? Hard. Harder than I thought possible.

You are knee deep in a large government grant proposal and… The executive director calls you on the way to another meeting and quickly ambles off a new strategy the agency will be embarking on that must be included in the proposal. The finance person sends you an email with three new expenses to include in the budget. As you are leaving a meeting with the evaluation team, you are told about a new assessment tool the agency will be implementing…